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Fresh Kicks 181: FILM

Fresh Kicks 181: FILM

New Delhi's FILM records a peak-time mix of broken techno and bass-heavy garage for the Fresh Kicks series, and chats to Joe Roberts about his cinematic debut album on Qilla Records, and elevating the new wave of Indian electronic musicians

“There’s definitely something bubbling under in India,” FILM, aka New Delhi producer, DJ and promoter, Sanil Sudan, tells us when we catch up about his eponymous debut album on Qilla Records. Drawing on breaks, broken beat and jungle, Sudan imbues his music with the kind of deep, detailed atmospheres his moniker implies. On ‘Call Me’, jazz drums roll under refracting melodies; ‘Formless’ — inspired by the video game, Metal Gear Solid 2 — bristles with grit and menace; and ‘Second Self’ glitches and glistens under the influence of ‘90s IDM. It’s an accomplished work, but then, Sudan’s five-year-old FILM moniker is only the tip of a production passion that goes back 15 years.

Turned onto electronic music in the late ‘90s, when a cousin studying in London brought back a CD, he’s since experienced various seismic changes in India’s club scene. Cutting his teeth at illegal psytrance parties — hence album track, ‘I’ve Always Liked Trance’ — in the early 2000s, when most clubs were in hotels and only played Bollywood music, he got into DJing via local techno hero, Arjun Vagale.

“Even though there are 28 million people here, it’s a very small electronic music scene,” explains Sudan of the city’s still-tight-knit community. With no record shops, before the digital era fully arrived DJs had to hustle, “making friends with pilots and cabin crews, whoever we could find who [could] get records”.

In the mid-2000s, smaller, independent clubs began to open and he witnessed the arrival of touring DJs such as Sasha and John Digweed. But it was two English DJs launching a party called Bass Foundation that led to him becoming a fully fledged jungle DJ from 2009-2013. “That started my lifelong obsession with bass music,” he says, explaining that this expat connection means “whatever is in London, you get to play here in Delhi the next week. It’s very current.”

With a “day job” running two venues, Auro Kitchen & Bar and Summer House Cafe, as well as consulting for festivals and music conferences, Sudan has been instrumental in continuing to build links between Indian nightlife and the rest of the world, bringing over acts such as the Zenker Brothers, Moodymann and Mor Elian. But as with many things, the pandemic has introduced a new reality. Costs are up 30-40%, he says, so these kinds of guests no longer make sense — “Local people generate the same amount of money.” 

The plus side of lockdown, however, was that across India, producers were taking to Ableton. “And these are genius people who’ve been playing an instrument since the age of three,” Sudan says, gushing about the influx of outstanding music he’s receiving. “It blows my mind.”

Deeply embedded in the Indian scene — not just as an artist and booker, but also as part of the influential, where his Medium Rare show is named after a party he runs — the next plan is starting a label to elevate this new wave. “Labels like Timedance or NAAFI, they’re doing what they call the decolonisation of electronic music. I want to start that conversation in India.” Having Mercury Music Prize winner, Talvin Singh, as a friend is helping steer this conversation towards a defining sound he calls, “Indian, but not Indian.” 

Listen to FILM's Fresh Kicks mix below. 


Jasper James ‘E Maniac’
Bjarki ‘Polygon Pink Toast’
Pariah ‘Caterpillar’
INGI ‘Point’
Martyn Bootyspoon ‘Ghetto Sexual’
Ido Plumes ‘Afloat’
Mata Disk ‘Surrounder’
Bakey ‘Personal’
Sherrie B ‘Nah Tek It (Interplanetary Criminal Remix)’
Monophonik - Tumbi’ 
Zenker Brothers ‘Enjoy Reality’
Neana ‘Soiree’
James Bangura ‘Black Lazarus (Tunnel Trip Version)’
Rhyw ‘Bee Stings’
FILM ‘Rush’
Vladimir Dubyshkin ‘Serious Attack’ 
New Landstrumm ‘Eskva’
Gemmy ‘Irreversible Culture (RSD Remix)’
Mala ‘Anti War Dub’

Want more? Read all about New Delhi label Recordings, and listen to a mix from its catalogue, here